Both teams enter the game winless and at or near the bottom of the SEMO Central Conference and Class 3, District 1 standings. A win could jump start a second half comeback for one of the teams while a loss will put one team in desperation mode.
The two teams are very similar this season. Both can point to quality opponents to start the season, while both are trying to work through similar problems with their offensive lines.
"I think they have played some good teams to begin with," Dexter coach Aaron Pixely responded when asked why Kennett has struggles early on. "They look a lot like us in the fact that they've struggled up front a little bit. But when they (offensive line) stay low and get off, they are pretty good. I think if we stay low and get off, we could be a lot more successful to."
Statistically Kennett and Dexter are nearly even. The Indians have scored 24 more points (59-35) over the first four games while the Bearcats hold a slight lead defensively allowing 10 fewer points (136-146).
Much of Kennett offense has been provided by freshman quarterback Declan Wallace. Last week in a l48-27 loss to Paragould, Wallace accounted for three touchdown, connecting on 9-of-15 passes for 158 yards and one TD, while rushing 25 times for 180 yards and two scores.
"They have a very good quarterback that runs it exceptionally well and throws it exceptionally well," Pixley said of Warren. "They've got good wide receivers who are very talented. And they've got Darius Warren who as been back there at tailback for the past three years for them. He's a returning 1000 yard rusher. So we can't fall asleep on him even though he's not getting the carries he has been in the past. We fully expect him to carry the ball more."
Warren has been quite for the Tribe this season after rushing for over 1,300 yards last season while being named to the all-conference team.
"They are very capable on offense," Pixley noted. "They have scored some points this year and we have to play air-tight defense all night long and can't give up the big play.
"So it's going to be difficult," he continued. "Any time you get athletes in space like they get them in, it's tough for us to tackle. So we have to tackle the football and we've got to get a lot of people to the football and we have to stay low and win the war up front."
Up front in the trenches is where the Bearcats have had trouble this season. The team lost their most experienced lineman, senior Dylan Aaron, to a knew injury and the offensive line and the young players are missing his leadership.
"So we have to be physical," Pixley said of his offensive line. "We have to stay with blocks. Our backs have to pass block better. We have to keep our quarterback on his feet and our running backs can't get hit two yards in the backfield every single play. If we can do that right there, we might gain some yards and have some success. Because that is the only chance we have is winning the war up front and staying with blocks."
Injuries have started to pile up for the Bearcats and Pixley said several players will be game time decisions to whether they play or not. He did say that quarterback DJ Dowdy (ankle) will start.
"We had two running backs (who also play linebacker and defensive end) out all week that really didn't get any reps all week," Pixley pointed out. "So we're putting different kids, younger kids in there. Really at this time from an organized stand point it has been chaotic. That's what happens when key people can't practice. But it's like I said earlier, until we win the wars up front it's not going to get any better.
"(It's the) Same guys still nicked up pretty bad," Pixley said, referring to seniors Ryan Joyner and Brad Wick) and they're not going full pads. They haven't gone full pads all week. We've had to get ready with other guys. Jonathan Paige (senior, defensive and tight end) is back to this point. We're going to try and get him through warm-ups on Friday night to make sure he doesn't get hurt in warm ups and get him in there and we'll be better for it."
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Notes: A Aaron Pixley coached Dexter football team has never lost to Kennett. Pixley is in his 13th season at Dexter.